Places of Reno: The Biggest Little Playa

The Reno Playa Art Park, located in downtown Reno, right on Virginia St., is derided by some, but enjoyed by others as Burning Man art exported into a “weird space,” amid fast food, casinos, pawn shops, empty lots and souvenir shops. It should soon be moving though and new art will be installed. Nathaniel Perez reports with photos and an audio story.

The park’s custom made bike rack — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

The Reno Playa Art Park showcases different sculptures and art pieces which visitors can interact with between 5th and 6th Streets on Virginia Street.

Listen to the audio story above by Nathaniel Perez in which the concept of the park is explained.

“We do this because we believe that Reno is the gateway to Burning Man, and that the art should have temporary homes here in our community much like it does on the playa,” said Maria Partridge, the Reno Playa Art Park coordinator.

Good Luck Horseshoe Sculpture — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

According to the Gateway Project which is bringing playa art to Reno … “the Biggest Little Horseshoe … is an eight-foot tall steel horseshoe with the words “Good Luck” reaching another two feet overhead… (When) the citizens of Reno pass through the horseshoe, they will hear the good luck whinnies of horses and the occasional wise-­‐guy remark to send them on their way.”

Electric Dandelions — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

The Electric Dandelions are three 20 plus feet tall dandelion sculptures that light up at night.

Electric Renaissance (A Tribute to Cadillac Ranch) — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

From the Gateway Project website …. “In 1974 the artists collaborative Ant Farm buried ten Cadillacs in the Texas prairie, leaving only the tail fins visible. Cadillac Ranch has come to symbolize the demise of the dinosaurs that brought the American automobile industry to the brink of extinction. The emergence of the nose-section of a zero-emissions vehicle turns the image of Cadillac Ranch on its head. It suggests that, after a transformational journey through the bowels of earth, the automobile is being reborn as an environmentally-friendly descendant of gas-guzzling ancestors.”

A visitor enjoying the Burning Man art in the park — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

“We hope the park will become a place for people of all types to gather and share an interactive experience with Burning Man art. Much like the festival itself, we envision that spirit continuing here in our community for those who have, and have not gone to the event to experience for themselves,” said Larry DeVincenzi, a volunteer with the art park.

Trasparenza Sculpture at night, depicting a giant sparkling crystal crown — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

“Art is a great way to fight blight and this is a great example of the power of art to change a community and those who will come to see it. Will it expand the art scene? I think it has obviously as do the many local and visitors who continue to visit the park themselves,” said DeVincenzi.

Star Way Sculpture — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

According to the Gateway Project website …. “StarWay is a star thrown to earth with two of its points sticking into the earth. It is a star made of over two hundred individually lit stars that twinkle internally, yet glow under a bank of UV light in blue, yellow and green. StarWay twinkles happily in the dark and yet it will twinkle more brightly if you make a wish on it. In order to make a wish on it you need to be in possession of a ‘wishing star’ that you place on the ‘wishing console’. StarWay shows that the more we wish the brighter the world will be.”

Daydream Mural — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

“ I really think it [Reno] can be a tourist attraction. We are so lucky to have Burning Man right here and to have its art come through our parks and have it distributed around…this will be an art destination,” said local artist Mischell Phoenix Riley.

Electric Dandelions at night — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

Changing Art and Changing Location

“We were given a 2017 Global Arts Grant from Burning Man so we’re doing a completely new park,”said Partridge. Just like the art in the playa, the art park will only be temporary. The sculptures in the park will follow the same traditions that the art in Burning Man follows and will make room for new art. The next location for the next playa art park has yet to be determined.

Star Way sculpture at night — Photo by Nathaniel Perez

Photos and Audio Reporting by Nathaniel Perez

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